Travel in an Airplane is a total pain in the backside. Quite literally. After several hours stuck in a small seat, your bum hurts. As do your legs, your neck and quite a few other parts of your body. There has to be a better way than this.

I was on a plane the other day which had an usual feature. Right next to the toilet was a crew cubicle. I guess that they have these in many planes, but most are hidden, I think. Basically, it's a cupboard with about four bunk beds in, upon which you can sleep. I would guess that the crew are generally more happy with a cubicle which is not physically located next to the toilet, but I guess that you can do wonders with ear plugs.

This lead me to thinking; surely, air travel would be a lot more comfortable if you were horizontal. It would be easier to sleep, there would probably be a lowered risk of deep vein thrombosis and you would not have to talk to anyone. Of course, there would be problems. For example, eating would be more difficult and watching the film in this position would be quirky to say the least.

My initial solution was to use a virtual reality device. The traveller could then be in cosetted environment, perferably with some terrible Holywood junk movie that would careful lull the brain into a state of blissful ignorance.

I then realised that this is a little bit parimonious. What we should really do is anesthetise people. You would turn up at check-in, go through the usual stuff with luggage, then around the corner, you would check yourself in. One quick pain in the arm and it would all be over. A few hours later, you'd wake up, and you would be where ever you want to go. At least, unless the airline lost you, in which case you might end up in a random continent, a major war zone or, if Virgin Galactic ever takes off (sorry for the pun), possibly a different planet.

Of course, there are specific risks to any anaesthetic, but then again there are risks to air travel as it stands. Mostly going down for murder if you end up next to an evangelic Christian, a republican or a Manchester United supporter. So, you'd probably need a consultant anesthesiologist on the plane. These gas men are, of course, expensive, but I think it would be a fairly popular option (at least if you give them one of the nice first class seats). Most anesthesiologists see their role as ensuring the patient remains alive while a nutter with a scapel does his level best to ensure the opposite. On the airplane, no surgeon, no scapel and a generally easy life. Added to which, no longer would they have to cope with the patient saying "I didn't know you had to actually be a doctor to anesthetise some one". And, of course, you could offset the cost because you would no longer need any other cabin crew.

The airlines would be really happy as well. They could sack all of the caterers and bask in the wonderful public relations that this would bring. And, as any blind person knows, they are always happier once they get you into an entirely unnecessary wheelchair and can just treat you like luggage. Knocking you out first would just formalise this relationship.

Of course, the airports would be in trouble. Most people would want to get over all that tedious waiting around in the terminal. I suspect these are designed to be as uncomformtable as possible—what else could explain the absence of benches to lie down on, or, as I recently saw in Detroit the great idea of putting a train inside the terminal, rattling up and down the tracks every 5 minutes 1. The idea is to keep you on your feet and therefore buying things 2. There are going to be lots of people on the dole if all the air travellers are comatose.

However, recently, I was gifted a great solution to this problem. As you are going to be unconscious anyway, why not combine air travel with elective surgery? Get on a plane in UK, wake up in Amsterdam minus your appendix. You could even provide topical surgery: go to sleep in Manchester, wake up in Hollywood with an orthodontically enabled bucket mouth; go to sleep in London, wake up in California with a new pair of breasts 3; go to sleep in Edinburgh and wake up in Frankfurt with the colostomy that you are going to need anyway after a couple of days of German food.

Even the American government would be happier, something which seems like a minor miracle in this day and age. Unconcious patients are much less likely to cause security concerns than conscious ones, although, they'd probably still want you to take your shoes off.

1. The other possibility is that the architect just decided that it would look cool and gave no thought to the practical implications. This is a distinct possibility.

2. There is a business opportunity here; someone could make a fortune hiring out collapsable sun loungers.

3. It was recently pointed out to me that you if you just had silcone implants, you are advised to avoid air travel for a time in case they burst. So, perhaps, some more research and development is required here.

Updated: 18-10-18
Home / Index